Musings —07.11.2010 07:37 AM—
“As a safety program, the boater-licensing regime has more holes than a leaky rowboat. Even though boat owners must be licensed, unlicensed people who’ve never been in a boat in their lives can still rent them after filling out a safety checklist. Twelve-year-olds can operate boats of up to 40 horsepower, and can run bigger boats if they have a 16-year-old on board. Children under 12 can also operate boats up to 10 horsepower.”
(When I worked for him at the Ottawa Citizen, I didn’t ever argue with Randy, and I’m not about to argue with him now. But I had been under the impression that the new boat regs make it tougher for children to do what they once did on the water – which was, pretty much anything, no limits.)
In any event, Randy’s overall point is correct: Canada tolerates things taking place on the water that would never happen on the nation’s highways.
I have a laminated Pleasure Craft licence in my wallet. I got it last Summer. I was ten minutes early for a lunch with a Liberal friend, and I saw a boat-exam company had a booth nearby. I walked up, paid the fee, and did the exam. I got every question right, except one about sailing. I don’t sail.
I own two motor boats, however, and I try to be serious about safety. I don’t let anyone onboard unless they are wearing a life jacket at all times. Everyone has to stay in the seat they were assigned, and there’s no moving around mid-journey. And the stuff I regularly see on other boats – like open bottles of booze – are verbotten.
The craziest part about the new “rules,” in my opinion, is the rental thing. You can stagger up to a marina carrying a two-four, pretend to listen to the “safety checklist,” pay the rental, and then get handed the keys to a speedboat with a 300hp Merc. No questions, no problems.
There have already been a number of boat tragedies this Summer, and there’ll be plenty more before the end of August. Happens every year. Many of them could be avoided if Transport Canada got its head out its arse, and stopped treating the nation’s lakes and waterways like they were the Wild West.
Will they? I doubt it. The Harper Reformatories are libertarians more than they are conservatives. The only extra police activity they favour involves beating the Hell out of weird-looking people during the G20 weekend.
In the meantime, boating deaths and injuries will continue as before.